Review Responses:

Lordheaven: I like Vladimir too, for being a pretty big jerk. It's going to be fun to write his interactions with Harry. I know I've probably said this before, but you'll hear of Ron and Hermione soon enough. I just have to get through the first week before things really start heating up. Thanks for your advice on Bulgarian, and it is going to be funny when Hermione realizes that Harry learned something before her! Lol. Looking forward to hearing from you again!

Thanks also to my dear reviewers jacketgolf33, aragog, Night Wanderer, punkreader, and OnePhoenix. However, I would also like to apologize to all my readers, for the annoying delay. As I have told to some who inquired via PMs, FanFiction first would not let me sign in, and then whenever I tried to upload this file, it said that it did not exist. So I had to find a way to go around; I tried other computers, at home, at friends', at the library, and tried uploading it from a floppy or CD! But nothing was working until my brother took apart the hardrive and dusted the inside of it. So, without further ado, here is chapter 20! And I am extremely sorry for the wait!

Chapter 20: Eleutharios

Harry was not looking forward to informing Dareios that he'd gotten another demerit, not at all. He could already imagine his Sponsor's face, if Ivaylo's wrathful expression was anything to go by... Well, the weekend starts in three days, so I'll have four until I have to tell him... he thought. Then again, keeping something from Dareios didn't exactly seem like the smartest thing to do. Harry sighed as he dropped off his things, attempted to flatten his hair, and left with the others for the dining hall.

Yakov wasn't at lunch for some reason, so Harry was forced to eat alone. The meal was strangely quiet without the cheerful, studious Bulgarian around to explain things. Of course, finding out what he would be learning next with Dareios wasn't quite pleasant either, and it did not help his mood at all. He had potions next. Yet another way to embarrass myself and reveal my 'intolerable ignorance', Harry snorted to himself. Focusing on his feet was the only way he could keep from grinding his teeth, a hatred surging up in him as he related potions with the one man he despised more than Voldemort.

He was surprised to find, however, that they traveled to a different room to practice, rather than some sort of lab in Dareios' quarters; and he was also a little shocked, and unnerved, to find that he would be learning with all of the others who shared his sponsor. Wonderful, more people to make a fool of myself in front of... He trudged in after Matthias, eyeing the cauldrons and materials with some trepidation. He had managed to get an 'E' on his potions OWL, surely this couldn't be so hard? Who knew, he might even learn something this year, now that a slimy, greasy-haired, over-large, treacherous, sneering, bast—bat wasn't teaching him.

"If you are going to sulk, boy, do it in private; I have no tolerance for it!" the barked command snapped Harry out of his daze in time to realize that the others were going into a separate lab, while Sergei appeared behind Dareios, to stand beside one station.

"Yes Sir," Harry replied automatically.

Dareios cleared his throat, ruffling his beard a little bit, the movement quite comical—not that Harry would ever dare to say that out loud. "As you have no doubt—or rather, hopefully noticed, you will not be learning potions with your other fellows. Seeing as how they have been with me for much longer than you, I find it impossible that you would be able to begin at their level and progress successfully. And as long as the condition is such, you shall be educated along with Sergei, who is roughly of the same competence as yourself. Now come up here, boy, we don't have all day."

Lucky me, Harry thought dryly, I only have to humiliate myself in front of a kid.

"Now, today we shall begin on the Table of Conflicting Elements." Dareios said as Harry and Sergei sat down next to each other, sharing a station between them. Harry took out the potions text he'd brought with him, grimacing as he realized that it was Snape's old copy. I thought I'd burned it... Hurriedly he tore his gaze from the text; it wasn't its fault that itsformer owner was a murderer. He started taking notes on what Dareios was saying in the blank pages in the back—better to keep all his notes together than risk losing some. If only Hermione could see me, he thought with a small, wry grin that went unnoticed by his Sponsor, writing in a book—how ashamed she'd be.

Dareios finished lecturing, then quickly drew a large, organized diagram on the board near the front, which they also copied down. He then ordered them to set up their own cauldrons and get out the ingredients written in the table. Since none of the jars or drawers were labeled, Harry's memorization of what the ingredients looked like was put to the test, and he was satisfied when he only missed three—which earned him another round of Dareios' informing him of his ineptitude; it stung a little, but then rolled off. Once they had the water in their cauldrons at a boil, Dareios wrote several questions on the board, and—using the chart they'd copied down—they had to find the answers, then combine the ingredients. If done correctly, the cauldron would remain whole. If done wrong, the cauldron would explode. When they had that down, they had to do the reverse, actually cause the cauldrons to melt (or give off an enormous cloud of smoke in this case, since Dareios charmed anti-destruction onto the cauldrons) by combining the ingredients in the wrong order, so they could see the effects. Personally, Harry thought this rather entertaining; it was certainly something Neville would excel at. However, his entertainment died quite a bit when they then had to do the same thing, but without the aid of the diagram. There were quite a few more exploding cauldrons from Harry this time around, four, to be exact, and Dareios was not in the least bit pleased. Sergei, on the other hand, found it incredibly amusing, his face split in two by a wide grin. When they all left the lab two hours later, Harry was covered waist up in soot, but a slight smile on his face, and Sergei's expression was mildly amused and slightly irritated—he'd gotten splashed by the last exploding mixture, earning a scorch mark in his hair. For the first time in his life, Harry'd actually had a bit of—dare he think it?—fun in a potions class. Sure, Slughorn hadn't been a bad teacher, but Harry'd been a bit too preoccupied to fully enjoy the class.

After potions came more history of the Shadow arts, and Harry waited until the end of the lesson before breaking the news to his Sponsor about his new demerit. Bracing himself, Harry placed a hand over his heart and when Dareios gave him permission to speak, he hesitantly informed the older wizard of it. The Magister's face went from its normal color to a strangely coppery red, starting from beneath his beard to rise up and vanish into his grey hair. He angrily fidgeted with his robes as he immediately began to growl, snap, and rumble furiously in Bulgarian—from his tone, Harry suspected some of it to be cursing. "Have you learned nothing, boy?" his Sponsor shouted. "You follow instructions to the letter, accept what you are given, and respect your superiors! Not only have you succeeded in not following a single one of those simple prospects, you showed such ignorance to the Elder! The head of this school!" He once again broke off into rapid Bulgarian.

Harry bowed his head and waited until Dareios finished his angry tirade. For some reason, hearing his Sponsor's anger stung more than hearing someone like his Uncle shout insults at him. At long last, Dareios brusquely informed him that he would do well not to disgrace him further in front of Vladimir before dismissing him roughly. Harry was more than willing to escape to his room and collect his things to study and finish his homework. He traveled to the main hall, and found Yakov waiting for him. He'd been assisting a Magister during lunch, apparently, and was eager to hear how Harry's day had gone. As they made their way back up to the library, Harry explained his day in low, sighing tones.

"Vell, I suppose it could have been vorse," Yakov commented when Harry finished.

The British wizard looked at him with exasperation. "Are you always so optimistic about everything?"

He smiled. "Vhat is the point in looking on the bad side of things? Vould anything good come of it? No. Looking on the good side of things helps one to get along in the vorld, makes it simpler, I suppose you could say. Now come, it is time you got your books, so you do not have another lesson such as the one you had vith Elder Vladimir."

They spent several minutes browsing the English shelves, Yakov only shaking his head if Harry picked up an incompetent book, or nodding if it was a good one. Other than that, Harry was on his own to find things for his various subjects. After renting them indefinitely from the crooked-backed librarian, who viewed Harry suspiciously with his strangely bright blue eyes, they returned to their spot in the back of the library and got to work.

The following morning was a tense one. Apparently Dareios still hadn't cooled down after hearing of Harry's demerit-reception, so it seemed to Harry that when they practiced stretched that morning after breakfast, the Magister chose especially difficult and painful ones for them to do. Clearing his mind came a little easier this time though, so that was something. Surprisingly, there was free time before lunch, so Harry met up with Yakov once again to finish up on Harry's assignment for Artifact Properties class, and brush up on the bit of Bulgarian he'd been learning for the past few days.

When lunch passed—after an eventful meal that Harry ate which sent his mouth on fire and resulted in him practically leaping for the water pitcher (it turned out to hold Rakia instead) and Yakov nearly falling out of his seat with laughter—Ivaylo led Harry to the third, and final, class that they would have outside Dareios' tutelage: Creatures and Binding Magics. This classroom, located on the ground floor near the side of the mountain that was covered in forests and was warmer than the rest, had a vastly different air about it than the others Harry had been in. For one, it was brightly lit by the open windows, which allowed fresh air and sunshine to flood the room; it was surprisingly warmer because of it too. That in itself makes this my favorite class, Harry thought to himself with a quiet chuckle. He was even more surprised and pleased when the other students who entered included Yakov in their number. Harry grinned at his friend, who smiled and came over.

"Shouldn't you be in the more advanced class?" Harry asked quietly as the other students found seats.

Yakov shook his head. "No. Magister Eleutharios is beginning a new..." He frowned, trying to think of the word in English. "Course type?"

"Subject?" Harry offered with a slight grin, glad to be able to know something in English that Yakov didn't.

Yakov's owlish eyes narrowed behind his large glasses at his friend's amusement. "Yes—tat is the word."

"What's the subject now, then?" he asked.

The wizard shrugged as a door at the back opened. "You will see, as shall we all."

Harry rolled his eyes before settling them on this newest Magister. His first impression was that he could have been related to Hagrid, he was that tall. An enormous man, Magister Eleutharios was at least seven and a half feet tall, if not eight. With a broad chest and shoulders as wide as one of the smaller desks, large, muscular arms and huge hands, he seemed to barely fit through the door, and even fit less into his robes, which he wore open, as most of the people here did. His hair—unlike Hagrid's—was smooth, but slightly mussed, and black in color, with threads of copper thrown in like a dash of salt. His brown eyes were deep set under a thick brow, but they sparkled with energy andan uncanny youthfulness for a man who looked to be in his late forties.

"Velcome all!" he boomed, clapping his hands together, causing them to crash like cymbals. His voice was incredibly deep, deeper than any Harry had ever heard, and his accent was barely noticeable, just a few 'v's in place of 'w's on occasion; in fact, his accent was only slightly Bulgarian, the rest seemed... familiar. "I am incredibly pleased to see so many of you in my class. And just in time too! Having returned from the Western part of Europe, I have brought many new things with me upon my return to our dear Zotzion! Which is the reason you all have been put together for this class. Here you shall be learning, of course, of creatures and ways to treat with them, track them, and trick them on occasion. Though I would advise against doing so with a manticore." Several of the students chuckled, and Harry couldn't help grinning. "But along with tat, you shall also be learning of Bonds, and Summoning: a rare art practiced by few among the magical races, and for good reason." He looked around at all of them. "Alright, let us begin with roll call, and then the true learning shall begin." He went through the names, and Harry was grateful that the man did not give him any odd treatment when his name was called.

"Today we shall begin with the basic practice of Binding." The Magister started. "If you open your books to the table of contents, past the boring introductory texts, you shall look for and find a diagram including the most common runes used for such magic. The diagram should begin with binding a spell to an object. Read the explanation, then grab one of the medallions from a nearby shelf, and practice a basic health-enhancement charm..."

They went through the class, and Harry found it rather interesting. Working with Yakov made things a lot easier, and more familiar. In the other classes he had been alone, here it was more like Hogwarts, with a friend to talk to while getting something done. A pit suddenly appeared in his stomach, causing Harry to realize that he missed his friends. It's your own fault, you know, part of him said, you convinced them not to apply to Zotzion in the first place.

Yeah, but they probably wouldn't have gotten in either, another part retorted. Since you were only accepted as part of a joke.

Shaking his head with a deep breath to calm the frustration growing inside his gut, Harry concentrated once again on his medallion, then flipping through his book once he finished. They took notes for a moment, practicing with other charms, such as bad and good luck charms, minor jinx attachments, and small healing spells. It was complicated, figuring out the runes and how to write them with your wand, and making sure that the metal and design of your medallion didn't conflict with the Bind, but they got through it in the two and a half hours that they were at it. And this was only the simple stuff! Harry got a headache just thinking about what sort of difficult charms and spells they would have to Bind to things later.

The students were packing up and filing out the door, andHarry wasjust about to step out after Yakov, when Magister Eleutharios' voice boomed out, "You there, lad!" He was looking at Harry. "You are one of Magister Dareios' no? I need you to deliver something to him for me."

Harry waved so-long to Yakov and obediently walked over to the Magister, who was writing a quick note. Once the last student had gone, he looked up from his desk, which scarcely came to his waist when he sat, despite how big it was. "You are from England, aren't you lad?"

Harry placed a hand over his heart first, causing the big man to laugh, the sound reverberating throughout the room. He waved a large hand. "No need for such protocol here, my lad, old Dareios is one of the few who stands by the old traditions to the letter."

"Then I had better stay in practice, Sir." Harry replied immediately, then clamped his mouth shut when he realized that he had spoken out of turn.

But instead of reprimanding him, Eleutharios merely smiled, deep crow's feet appearing at the corners of his eyes. "That you should. But returning to my question, are you not from England?"

"I am, Sir." Replied Harry.

"I myself have just returned from England. Nice country. Not in the best condition as of late, I'm afraid," he sighed, leaning back in his chair, looking sadly out the window. "Not in the best at all..."

Harry's eyes hardened. "No Sir, it hasn't."

Eleutharios glanced at him with a curious expression. "You are from Hogwarts, no?"

"I am, Sir."

"And you left before finishing your education?"

"I did, Sir."

"Might I inquire as to why?"

"You can, but I can't guarantee an answer." Harry inwardly cringed again; what was it with him and getting short with teachers now a days?

The Magister merely smiled slightly again. "Dareios is rubbing off on you already lad, and not here even a full week as of yet! Ah, well. Here is the letter I wanted you to deliver, Mr. Potter, and you had best hurry back."

Harry blanched when he realized that he was already late, and didn't think he would be able to find his way back in time. He bowed to the Magister and headed towards the door, the wax-sealed parchment in hand. "Oh, and I find that a pointing charm comes in quite handy in tight places," Eleutharios remarked to the air. Harry grinned slightly in thanks and hurried off before he was too late, muttering a version of the point-me charm to find his way back to Dareios' quarters. Why hadn't he thought of that before?